Settling into another European Winter has been both familiar and a little odd as it has been many years since my last. Locations, faces, places, gestures, and flavours reconnect me to this small and very cosy city of Amsterdam. It is the festive season and that means presents, songs, sweet biscuits, family gatherings, chocolate alphabet letters, drinks with friends, assorted traditions, costumes, frantic shopping and general excitement which helps to deflect the fact that the weather is rather dull and non descript.
Two exhibitions in Amsterdam have kept me active the past weeks, the first at The Woodshed in North Amsterdam organized by Dirk Devos was titled - Where are you going? This one night show included the launch of 'Fresh Orange' a concept, website and booklet that hopes to instigate innovative and positive ways to re-think Dutch culture. Where are you going? also included live performances from Parne Gadge a gypsy flavoured band and an improvised piece performed by Big Low ( Dan Tuffy and Steve Heather.) I displayed a recent body of work completed in the Cambodia studio so the evening was a multi-media type event that coincided with the arrival of frosty winter temperatures.
The second exhibition was held at Suzanne Biederberg Gallery in the lovely Jordaan area. This show continues my TRAVAILOGUE series of works that have been made on the road the past 4 years and are now being show on the road under this title. The opening was a good one as if I have difficulty riding one kilometre home on a bicycle that usually means fun was had.
New Years eve was spent in Berlin watching fireworks light up the chilly sky from a rooftop. I was entertained for five days by a handful of the cosmopolitan population who seem very un-shy of bars and cafes and other cultural activities. A small reunion occurred by arranging to meet three artists I met at TAV (Taipei Artists Village) when I was there early 2004. Art was looked at in Berlin but the festive spirit swamped our usual artistic activities. On my way back to Amsterdam from the inter-city train window I watched a grey sky get darker, a European winter settling in. Giant wind turbines spun slowly collecting power while German and Dutch cows made milk below these huge white towers. They reminded me of the wind turbines recently installed at Mawson Station in Antarctica and also the fact that in four weeks I shall return to the Southern continent but this time to the western side.
I meet more and more friends across the planet that have not surprisingly moved into family mode. This usually consists of two kids, a nice home, car, piles of stuff, hard work, a lot of compromise and ample love to keep the family running smoothly. I also run into those that are single, mobile and almost as nomadic as I am. A form of domestic phobia I detect in myself and possibly also in some of these wanderers that I meet. Home certainly is not scary nor is it unattainable for me as I do have various options as to where I could plant myself but the confusion of possibilities, my habitual determination to continue the journey, my addiction to change, exotic stimulus and displacement all make stability rather unappetising for me.
Domestic phobia also means I have problems with possessions or should I say excess baggage? Everyone has baggage some more than others. To some it amounts to tons of stuff, to others its emotional, to some it is only a few trinkets. If baggage is in excess it's absolutely no fun but how much is too much? Twenty kilos? Forty kilos? War wounds? A broken heart? A full cargo container? I have no idea. As a rather nomadic person I dream of an empty bag. Zero belongings that weigh less than nothing would be fine for me. Ideally my luggage would be a small bag with a nice handle stuffed full of clouds, crammed with void and almost floating. No drama, no possessions, no sorrow, no souvenirs, no bloodshed not even a bottle of duty free booze! It is a silly dream as to achieve such a state I would also have to discard experience and ultimately life, which is certainly made up of a lot of unpleasantness but also bags and bags of fun.